The Phoenix Suns found a successful strategy last season playing point guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe together.
When both players were on the floor together, Phoenix had a +11 net rating (offensive rating – defensive rating). With Bledsoe on the court and Dragic off, they fell all the way to -5.0 net rating and with Dragic on and Bledsoe off it perked back up to solid yet unspectacular +4.3.
It was clear the Suns were at their best when their two dynamic guards were playing simultaneously.
Enter new addition Isaiah Thomas, formerly of the Sacramento Kings, to compliment Phoenix’s duo.
“That’s what our vision is,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said about the potential of having Thomas, Bledsoe and Dragic at his disposal. “You hear the three-headed monster about big guys all the time, but maybe we got the three-headed monster in the guards. There is going to be two of those guys on the court at all times. When it happens, teams are going to have to plan for that and really focus. We feel we can always be on the attack with three of them on the team and two of them out on the court most of the time.”
Despite the difference in stature between Thomas and Dragic, they put up similar numbers in both generic box score statistics and advanced numbers. Dragic was slightly more efficient with a true shooting percentage of just over .600, but Thomas’ .574 was nothing to be ashamed of.
According to the SportVU numbers generated by NBA.com, Thomas actually possessed the ball more than Dragic per game (7.6 minutes to 6.3 minutes) and both led their respective teams in drives per game (Dragic 9.4 and Thomas 8.5).
This will allow Bledsoe to stay in a similar role to what he played with Dragic during all of his minutes when the team was at its best. It will also take away some playmaking duties from Dragic, who finished last season beat up and exhausted.
What the Suns’ brain trust of general manager Ryan McDonough, president Lon Babby and Hornacek are attempting to do isn’t conventional. It could eventually lead to a large percentage of Phoenix’s salary cap being invested into three players that play largely the same position.
Sometimes to push a team to new heights, you need to be willing to take risks and try something that no one else will. There is only one LeBron James and one Kevin Durant in the NBA. If you don’t have one, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other viable ways to win.
Phoenix seems to be all in on its two point guard arrangement and I sincerely hope we get the opportunity to see how it all works.